The Province from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada on January 12, 1974 · 134
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The Province from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada · 134

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Issue Date:
Saturday, January 12, 1974
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in his $70,000 three-storey townhouse in downtown Toronto. It was Alan Thicke. "Don't tell me," said Trebek. "You've got good news and bad news. The good news is I've got the show. And the bad news is I've got the show." "You're right," Thicke laughed. Three days later, Trebek was on the plane to California. It was exactly a week since the first phone call about the show. "I've always been lucky," said Alex Trebek. "I've never made any big mistakes. I always seemed to know the right moment to make a move." He was lying beside the Toronto Lawn Tennis Club's pool. He kept smearing his 180-pound, 6-foot frame with suntan oil, and every few minutes slid into the pool with his sunglasses on. "Yah," said Trebek. "It's been a good life so far." The good life began in Sudbury, Ont., where Trebek attended a French-speaking school until Grade 9. But that year his Russian-immigrant father and French-Indian mother split up, and the boy was sent to the University of Ottawa's devoutly Catholic prep school. Young Trebek did learn Latin, but little else. "I was totally rebellious. I was always skipping school to see movies. 1 once saw 63 in 90 days. The prefect of discipline, a young priest, turned grey my first year there. Literally. He blamed it on me. It was my major claim to fame. He died soon after." Trebek himself lasted only three years. He then went to Quebec's St. John Military School. That lasted five days. "The morning I saw them cutting off hair, I split. Too much discipline." But after finishing high school in Sudbury, Trebek returned to the University of Ottawa and left in 1961 with a BA and Bachelor of Philosophy. That year he joined the CBC and worked his way up from weather forecasts to hosting a series of shows and specials. By the time he left for Hollywood, he was one of the CBC's highest paid personalities in Toronto. A week after Trebek arrived, the pilot for The Wizard Of Odds was shot in NBC's Studio 4 in Burbank. He was still rehearsing his cues at 7 p.m., an hour before the taping. He had taken a 2-month leave from the CBC, but if the show went on he'd probably have to quit for good, he said. NBC had offered him $60,000 a year to start. "There's a lot of potential down here, you know. If the show really catches on, the ideal of course is to wind up owning a part of it, like Monty Hall." But of course, he added, "I don't want to do this all my life. Hell, I don't even watch game shows. But it gets me down here, opens the door into films. I know it's not the usual route, but anything can happen." By 8 p.m. the studio was packed with members of a Model A club conventioning in Los Angeles. Shouting, laughing back and forth, they filled the 200 plastic seats rising in tiers from the stage. Trebek came out in a grey double-knit suit, red-checked shirt and white tie. The conventioneers whistled and cheered. "Hey," shouted a blonde in a beehive hair style, "he's handsome." As the audience shrieked, Trebek raised his hand. "Please tell me," he said, "do you mind the moustache?" The moustache received a resounding vote of approval. "Thank you," said Trebek. "We weren't sure. You've helped a lot." Then, suddenly, the show was on. Trebek said that an average of one out of every three American men wears an undershirt, and asked three men in the audience to stand. Then he asked three women to guess which of the men wore an undershirt. The studio erupted as the women guessed and the men stripped off their shirts. Sailboats, convertibles, TV sets, grand pianos were rolled onstage as prizes. But through it all, Trebek kept his cool, knew his cues. He looked like he'd been giving away pianos all his life. By the end of the week Trebek got word that the show would go on the air. A month later, he started taping eight shows every weekend. The Wizard Of Odds opened July 16 on the NBC network and has been running each weekday ever since. The ratings were good enough for NBC to renew the show's option until at least March, 1974. Trebek returned to Toronto this fall, quit the CBC, sold his ski chalet, and his Toronto townhouse. He had taken an apartment in Hollywood, and said he planned to stay. Recently he co-hosted a Hollywood party with actress Polly Bergen, 44. ("We're just good friends," he noted.) His Hollywood dream would seem to be coming true. But we talked by phone again in November. "Yah," he said. "I'm speaking to various agencies, seeing some producers trying to get the ball rolling in drama. I've even hired my own PR firm. But I've got to be seen around more, get better known." And what's stopping him? "Well, I'm not really a California-modern swinger, you know. I tape on weekends and the rest of the week go out of my mind. I visit art galleries, buy antiques, go to the beach. It wouldn't be so bad if there was something else to do. But I miss my friends. It's so bloody lonely at times. Ill tell you the truth. I hope this show doesn't run forever. I'll go stark crazy if it does." Cool, they call him. A cool ambitious cat. But The Wizard Of Odds simply- sounded homesick. ts If you can tie a knot, you can make a beautiful deep pile rug! With this little latchet hook. v v some pre-cut yarn, a pre- stencilled rug canvas, it's as easy as A,BC, to make a beautiful y : ZZ I J&MM i deep-pile Shillcraft Rug! You take your choice from 70 designs. Here are just s&s&Bssm&t a few. You decide on size and shape. Then you select the colors you want from samples of 53 different colors. Everything you need to make vuui lug Jssj comes complete in your Shillcraft Readicut Rug Kit. Then you can begin enjoying a hobby that rewards you in many ways. 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